Let The Wild Be Free

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Published on: Sep. 2, 1995

Last revision: Oct. 20, 2010

for us."

Why are people drawn to injured animals and dirty streams when they could be sipping a cold brew at Kauffman Stadium or a hot toddy at Arrowhead Stadium?

"They love animals, that's the first hook," said Kay Wise, Friends president. "They feel they can make a difference. They believe that bunnies and squirrels are important, too. They'll do anything to help get that message across."

The Friends rehab animals, pitch in against pollution, conduct educational programs and raise money.

Because it has grossly outgrown its current 64-year-old facility in Swope park, Lakeside will soon break ground for a new $2 million, 15,000-square foot building. The new Lakeside will be located just about a mile up from the flood-prone old building. The Friends have committed to raising $500,000. The Kansas City Board of Parks and Recreation is matching that am ount, and the other $1 million is coming from the Conservation Department.

"It makes good sense to create one very good facility than have two organizations both working separately of each other," said Anita Gorman, Conservation Commissioner. "It's a wonderful partnership. Our donation says to the private donor that this is going to be a stable, well-meaning operation." Raising money is a difficult task, almost as onerous as being one of Missouri's busiest wildlife rehabilitation and educational facilities.

"But if we have to raise this money nickel by nickel, quarter by quarter we will," promised Tritico.

A New Lakeside

by Lynn Youngblood Sloan

The new Lakeside Nature Center will allow the facility to more than double its environmental education programming, according to Tammie Tritico, project manager for the new building.

Located in the heart of Swope Park, the new facili ty will use the surrounding habitat to illustrate how wild animals adapt to their environment, even in urban settings. Conservation themes, programs and hands-on exhibits will be the joint effort of the Conservation Department, Kansas City Parks, Recreation and Boulevards, and the Friends and staff of Lakeside.

"The new building will enable us to increase the number of programs we give and, therefore, we will educate more kids," Kay Wise, president of The Friends of Lakeside, said.

Lakeside draws in many urban visitors who are more familiar with cement, asphalt and street poles than with grass, leaves and trees. "We feel pretty lucky if we can get the kids to walk on the grass or take a hike in the woods," Tritico said.

The new facility will also allow Lakeside to continue its nationally recognized wildlife rehabilitation program.

Planning for the building began in Spring 1994. "The best thing about the new building," Tritico said, "is that it allows us to share with more people what nature is all about."

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